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Judaism I. Ancient Traditions to the Roman Period. The Modern Dilemma.

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judaism i

Judaism I

Ancient Traditions to the Roman Period

the modern dilemma
The Modern Dilemma
  • “The liberal wing of Judaism accepts modern canons of history and reserves the right to question aspects of the accuracy and historicity of the biblical text . . . They distinguish among myth, legend, and history in the biblical text.” (Alan Segal, in Oxtoby, p. 37)
  • “. . . the traditional wing of Judaism believes every word in the text to be literally true, often in a historical sense. They take it to have been dictated to Moses and the various prophets by divine inspiration.” (ibid)
early historical references
Early Historical References
  • Mer-ne-Ptah (Israel) stela, 1230 BCE:

“Plundered is Canaan with every evil . . . Israel is laid waste, his seed is not . . . All lands together, they are pacified.”

  • “Hapiru” or “Habiru”, 18th-12th cent. BCE
  • “. . . you shall make this response before the Lord your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.’” --Deuteronomy 26:5 (NRSV)
  • The decline in Mycenean civilization (ca. 1200 BCE).
myth in the bible
“Myth” in the Bible
  • Myth is a genre; these are tales that express a cultural order
  • Not “what happened” but “what always happens”
  • Israel’s myths seem to be both derivative of and contradictory to other ANE myths:
    • creation
    • flood
    • plagues
adam and eve
“Adam” and “Eve”
  • “Adam” -- “human”
  • “Eve” -- “living”
  • nakedness (arom) vs. shrewdness (arum)
  • “knowledge of good and evil”
  • “curse”-- work, sexual attraction, pain in childbirth, etc.
  • humans are “in God’s image” (Genesis 1:26)
abraham
Abraham
  • Resembles the life and context of (semi-) nomadic contemporaries
  • Covenant with God
  • Founder/patriarch of both Israel (via Isaac) and Islam (via Ishmael)
  • Promised a land
  • “Sacrifice” of Isaac (Gen. 22)
  • Abraham (Sarah), Isaac (Rebecca), Jacob (Leah & Rachel et al), Joseph (et al)
moses the exodus
Moses & the Exodus
  • “Foundational” narrative (Passover)
  • Historically probably only represents a portion of Israel
  • The Divine Name
  • Sinai/Horeb
  • Ten Commandments
  • “Conquest” occurs unevenly, over time, and probably includes a lot of assimilation; also, other Bronze Age civilizations collapse during this period
the monarchy
The Monarchy
  • “Judges” or “shofetim” (charismatic leadership)
  • Saul, David, and Solomon
  • Philistines, iron, and bronze
  • Jerusalem (ca. 1000 BCE)
  • The Divided Kingdom (Rehoboam [Judah], Jeroboam [Israel])
slide12
Northern Kingdom fall to Assyria in 722 BCE

Southern Kingdom (Judah) falls to Babylonia in 587/86 BCE

prophetic tradition let justice flow
Prophetic Tradition: Let Justice Flow
  • The future of a people depends on the justice of their society
  • Thus, individuals are responsible for their own dealings with others and for the general justice of society
  • Prophets
    • Prophetic Guilds (1 Samuel 9-10)
    • Individual Oral-Only Prophets (e.g., Nathan and Elijah)
    • Written prophets (e.g., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel)
the exile
The Exile
  • 586-538 BCE
  • Also a “foundational” event
  • “National cult” to “religious heritage” of a dispersed people
  • more urban than agricultural
  • Aramaic replaces Hebrew
  • King (melekh) to prince (nasi) to ????-- Messiah (Cyrus of Persia)
  • Temple rebuilt in 515 BCE
hellenism
Hellenism
  • Alexander conquers Persians (331 BCE)
  • Septuagint (3rd cent.)
  • Alexandrian Community
  • Maccabean Revolt (166 BCE)
    • Antiochus Epiphanes
    • Gymnasia
    • Social Tensions
    • Hanukkah
  • Greek Diaspora
sects revolts innovations
Sects, Revolts, Innovations
  • Essenes/Qumran
  • Sadducees
  • Pharisees
  • Zealots
    • Jewish War 66-70 C.E.
    • Destruction of Temple 70 C.E.
  • Christians
second temple theology
Second-Temple Theology
  • Diversity
  • “Shema” theology unites Judaism(s) & appeals to many Greeks
  • Allegorical Interpretation
  • Chosen-ness involves responsibility
  • Apocalyptic theologies emerge
  • Messianic expectations emerge
  • Dualism emerges
  • Belief in after-life emerges
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